By Amjad Majid
A few days ago, out of sheer curiosity and given that I consider myself an amateur data miner, I decided to explore the usage of the hash tag #kpgenocide on Facebook and Twitter to see how people were employing it. This was prompted by the fact that I had seen it used on my Facebook Timeline in a post, given the oratory resilience of actor Anupam Kher in recounting the suffering of the Kashmiri Pandit population on mainstream Indian television. The hash tag was used in a post sharing the video of Anupam Kher where he tells his ‘story’ of how he went through severe adversity and hardship in 1990 when he and a multitude of Kashmiri Pandits were, according to him, forcefully thrown out of the Valley.
Since Anupam Kher was born and schooled in Shimla, never lived in Kashmir, and moved to Mumbai to become the rather successful actor that he is, I assumed his video soliloquy on the Pandit condition and his subsequent oratory made use of a variety of devices: metaphor, flashback, amplification, characterisation, conflict, foreshadowing, hyperbole, imagery, irony, juxtaposition, mood, motif, negative capability, plot, prologue, suspense, symbol, syntax, theme, tone, tragedy et al. The power of Anupam Kher’s recollection of the collective tragedy of the “Kashmiri Pandit Exodus” narrated in the start in first person convinced me that more and more people must be using the #kpgenocide hash tag on social media especially after also hearing him speak in other television programs on mainstream Indian TV. And so I decided to investigate. What I found is that there are many users of Twitter and Facebook who employ and have been employing this hash tag and not in any metaphoric or hyperbolic manner, but directly to suggest what the term in the hash tag implies: a genocide of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 carried by out by Kashmiri Muslim civilians in cahoots with Kashmiri Muslim militants.
Now, in my personal view, it wouldn’t be much of a problem what Anupam Kher’s video (posted on Facebook) would mean if the #kpgenocide hash tag were not attached to it to allege that “thousands” of Pandits were massacred, “thousands” of their homes burned, “thousands” of their temples defiled by “tens of thousands” of “alleged” perpetrators who are suggested to have been ordinary Kashmiri civilians and some armed insurgents. I also have a problem with the type of background musical score that was used to build a climax in the video, which reduced it to overdone Bollywood melodramatic theatrics, perhaps borrowed from one of Anupam Kher’s many films, when in all reality a tragedy is begging to be discussed even after 26 years. In either case, Anupam Kher has had no significant impact, as #kpgenocide has been for a while now used more widely on Twitter and less widely on Facebook (perhaps because many people might not have figured out yet that Facebook also has hash tag capabilities). Kher’s video has not prompted more and more Kashmiri Pandits and ‘Indian empathisers’ to use #kpgenocide. Nevertheless, after going through Twitter and Facebook, I soon began thinking about the wider implications of the word “genocide” and the word “holocaust” and their resulting connection with the hash tag #kpgenocide, in the context of what they can come to represent in the future: a negation of the actual meaning of “genocide” and “holocaust.” I went back to the 2008-2009 KPSS (a KP organisation based in the Valley) survey that determined 399 Kashmiri Pandits (with an upper limit of 650 KPs) had been killed in the Kashmir conflict since 1990.
I go by these numbers put out by KPSS to establish for myself whether there was actually a “genocide” carried out to wipe out the Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley. And in doing so, I have failed to understand the usage of the #kpgenocide hash tag. But since it is active on both Twitter and Facebook, albeit in a limited capacity, I wonder what it would be like if Kashmiri Muslims started using #kmgenocide to denote the killing of the estimated 70,000 Kashmiri Muslims and the disappearance of another 8,000 to 10,000.
As I am interested in numbers and data mining, I came up with a ‘perverse’ ratio based on an approximate population of 6,000,000 Kashmiri Muslims in the Valley divided by 70,000 Kashmiri Muslim murdered (6,000,000 /70,000). The ratio results in 1 out of 86 Kashmiri Muslims murdered by the Indian state during these 26 years of conflict. By equal measure, if one divides 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley (as a KP journalist claimed in a Scroll.in article) by 650 Kashmiri Pandit murdered, it results in the ratio of 1 out of 615 Kashmiri Pandits murdered in the Kashmir conflict. If one wishes to get even more ‘perverse,’ one can by all means do a ratio calculation with ‘70,000 Kashmiri Muslims murdered/650 Kashmiri Pandits murdered’ to come to the realisation that for every 1 Kashmiri Pandit murdered there are 108 Kashmiri Muslims murdered in the Kashmir conflict.
I have used these ratio calculations to find out, in theory, what the figures would be. If, then, we are to use these figures to claim a “genocide” and “holocaust” for 1 out of 650 Kashmiri Pandits murdered, and use #kpgenocide as an active hash tag on social media, then we should consider using #kmgenocide to denounce the killing of 1 out of 86 Kashmiri Muslims, or better yet come up with a more creative hash tag such as #kmapocalypse to denote the same. In my investigation, via Google, I found one use of the #kmapocalypse hash tag on a site that calculates distances via “car or flight from city to city” and it has nothing to do with Kashmiri Muslims. Instead it stands for “Kilometer Apocalypse” creatively innovated by a user of the site to emphasize the long distance she had to travel once. As for the uses of #kmgenocide, there happens to be only one single use of this hash tag on Twitter by an individual, who does not technically affirm its usage but rather only questions “what about #KMGenocide?” in a lonely Tweet.
All this amateur data mining and calculation of ratios prompted by Anupam Kher’s video to determine whether it is acceptable and logical to talk of genocide in Kashmir has led me to ask one question: if certain Kashmiri Pandits and ‘Indian empathisers’ are using #kpgenocide to denote genocide on Kashmiri Pandits, then why are no Kashmiri Muslims and ‘Pakistani empathisers’ using #kmgenocide to denote genocide on Kashmiri Muslims, given the context of the numerical disparity between the Kashmiri Pandits killed and the far more numerable Kashmiri Muslim killed in the conflict?
My guess is that there is also a disparity in the application of ethics, use of common sense, awareness of truth and exercise of simple decency in those who use #kpgenocide and those who know not to.
—The writer is a school teacher from Kashmir